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Urgent Need to assent to 2018 Electoral Bill by Femi Falana, SAN

In exercise of his constitutional powers, President Mohammadu Buhari decided to veto the 2018 Electoral Bill passed by both chambers of the National Assembly on the grounds that it contained certain provisions which were inconsistent with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

Since the grounds for refusing to assent to the Bill by the President were well founded the National Assembly has rightly expunged the unconstitutional provisions and passed a new Electoral Bill. The new Bill which has been transmitted to the President is awaiting his assent.

In view of the fact that the Independent National Electoral Commission has announced that the 2019 General Election will hold in February 2019, I am compelled to call on the President to sign the 2018 Electoral Bill into law. In making this call the attention of the President ought to be drawn to Article 2 (1) of the Economic Community of West African States Protocol A/SP1/12/01 on Democracy and Good Governance which provides that:

“No substantial modification shall be made to the
Electoral Laws in the last six (6) months before
the elections, except with the consent of
majority of political actors.”

In the case of Congress of Democracy and Progress v Republic of Burkina Faso (unreported Suit No ECW/CCJ/APP/1915 of July 13, 2015, the Ecowas Court ruled that all the member states of the ECOWAS are bound by the provisions of the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance. Since the modification made to the 2010 Electoral Act is substantial the Bill cannot be passed in less than six months to the 2019 General Election. In view of the fact that Nigeria is legally obliged to comply with the said Protocol, President Buhari who is the current Chairman of the Ecowas should ensure that the Electoral Bill 2018 is assented to without any fufther delay.

Femi Falana, SAN

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